football

Encouraged

EASTLANSING,Mich.-Afterthreeconsecutivelopsidedlosses,PurduefounditselfinacompetitivegameuntilthefourthquarteronSaturday.
ThoughtheBoilermakersultimatelycouldn'tmakeenoughplaysandlost14-0toMichiganState,theyleftthegamefeelinggoodabouttheprogressthatwasmade.
And,really,that'sprobablythemostimportantthingatthispointinarebuildingseason:ThatPurdueshowsit'simprovinginthemidstofabrutalfirst-halfschedule.
"Idefinitelythinkwe'remakingstrides,andanytimeyoucanmakestridesyou'reencouraged,"first-yearcoachDarrellHazellsaid."We'renotinthebusinessofmoralvictories.Youneverwanttobethatway,butIthinkitgivesourguysalittleconfidenceifwedothingsrightallthetime,thenyougiveyourselvesabetterchancetobesuccessful.
"(Purdueplayers)playedwithalotmoreconfidencethroughoutthecourseofthegameandtheyreallywereprettyfireduponthesideline.Therewasabelief.Theyplayedsohard.Theyplayedextremelyhardfromwiretowire.We'vegottokeeptakingthosestepsforward."
AninspireddefensiveperformancekeptPurdue(1-6,0-3BigTen)inthegameuntilthefourthquarter.
TheBoilermakersdidn'tallowtheSpartans'offenseintotheredzoneuntiltherewere10minutesleftinthegame.
Purdueshowedanewpackagewithinitsnewthree-manfrontscheme,usingRyanRussellandJalaniPhillipsatthesametimeinatrue3-4look.Itmixeditspersonnelfrequently,too,usingeightdefensivebacksandrotatingagroupofD-linementokeepplayersfresh.Thathelpedthemstayaggressiveandkeeppursuit.
"Theygotalotofhatsaroundtheball,andIthoughttheyrantotheballexceptionallywell,"Hazellsaid."Theyplayedwithatremendousamountofenergyinthatgame,andthere'sgoodplayersovertherethatifyoucangetgoodplayersaroundtheball,thenyou'vegotachance."
MichiganState(6-1,3-0)didn'thaveadrivelongerthan38yardsuntilthepivotaloneearlyinthefourth.ThatstartedwithWillLucasgettingintothebackfieldtoproduceatwo-yardlossbutthen,forthefirsttimeallgame,theBoilermakersdroppedintosomebadhabits.
A17-yardcompletiononsecond-and-12.A25-yardcompletiononthird-and-11.A26-yardscreenpassonsecond-and-nine.
Thosebigplaysonfavorabledown-and-distancesituationsforthedefenseallowedtheSpartanstomoveintoagoal-to-gosituation.Onseconddownfromthe5,MichiganStateranaplayPurduehadn'tseenontape:Apitchtoareceiverinmotionwhorolledrightandthrewtoawide-opentightendforatouchdown.
TheyweretheonlypointsallowedbyPurdue'sdefense,andtheycame51minutesintothegame.
"Ifeellikeeverybodyistakingitmorepersonalnow,"seniorcaptainRicardoAllensaid."Notsayingweweren'tfromtheget-go,buteverybodyisreallycrankingdown.There'smorepeopleinthefilmroom.There'smorepeoplewhowanttolearn.Everybodyisseeingtheyhaveachancetoplaynow.It'snotjustsomebodygoesdownandgetshurtandsomebodyendsupinagamewhonevergotanyreps.We'rekeepingeverybodyfresh,rotatingeverybodyandstayingaggressive.
"Welovebeingintheclosegames.Welovewhenit'safightallnight.Butwewouldliketoovercomeandwin."
OnethingPurdue'sdefensedidn'tdowasforceturnovers.
Andthat'swhatthisoffensemayneedmorethananything.
TheBoilermakershadsomesignificantdrivesagainstoneofthenation'sbestdefensesbutstillcouldn'tfinishthem.
DannyEtlingwassackedfivetimesforthesecondconsecutiveweek,MichiganStatealsohadthreeotherquarterbackhurriesandEtlingwashitmultipletimesafterhereleasedtheball.
Therelentlesspressurehelpedproducethegame'sbiggestplay.
WithPurduenearmidfieldaboutfiveminutesintothesecondquarter,theBoilermakerslinedupfourwideandwithBrandonCottominthebackfield.MichiganStateblitzed,andCottompickeduponedefenderofftheedge.
ButnoonetouchedMaxBullough.
ThemiddlelinebackershotpastPurdue'sleftsideofthelineanddrilledEtling,theballpoppinglooseandbeingpickedupbyDenicosAllen.Allentookit45yardsforatouchdown.
"IthoughtthecornerwasgoingtositontheoutroutethatIwasgoingtothrow,"saidEtling,whowasprimedforathree-stepdropandquickthrow."Lookingback-I'mgoingtowatchfilm-butIdon'tthinkhesatonit.Wewereconcernedaboutit.(Cameron)Poseywastellingme'Hey,watchout,'becauseifhejumpsit,it'spick-sixtheotherway.SoIheldontoithalfasecondtoolong.Igothitanddidn'tseeitcoming,soIcouldn'tprotecttheballwellenoughandIwasinthethrowingmotion."
Purdue'snextdrivewent10playsand4:56butstallednearmidfield.
Itsnexttwoendedinmissedfieldgoals.
Itslastrealchancewaslateinthethirdquarterwhenitwent52yardsonsevenplaystoadvancetoMichiganState's40-yardline.ButEtling'sdeepshottoPoseyonthird-and-10wasoff-targetandPurduepunted.
"It'shardtogothelong,hardwayonteams,"Etingsaidofthelongdrives."We'vegottofindawaytogivethatextraeffortorgetthatextrabrokentackleorpullthestringonthe(deep)oneto(DeAngelo)YanceydowntheseamortoPoseyandfindawaytocompletethoseballs.Youwantthoseback,butit'sagreatlearningexperienceformeandeveryoneelse.I'mtiredoflearning.Ijustwanttoplaywell."
Purduehadn'tbeenshutoutsincea49-0losstoOhioStatein2010.
Itavoidedtheshutoutlastweekbythrowingatouchdownpassinthefinalminute.
"Wehavetostoptakingmoralvictoriesandstartfinishingdrivesandthatstartswithme,"saidEtling,whowas14-of-25passingfor160yardsandaninterception.
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